MAYO — A trio of young soccer players — Quentin Sutley, Emmanuel Tovar and Omar Carreon — have led Lafayette to a 10-1-1 record, and the Hornets have their sights set on a district championship and a playoff run.
The Hornets are battling Hamilton County for the district regular season championship and played earlier this week in a game that will probably determine the district winner. The game is the first for both teams after the holiday break, and they tied 0-0 in their first meeting earlier in the season.
Tovar, a junior, leads the Hornets with 17 goals and has recently been playing forward, midfield and “Sometimes I drop back into defense,” he said. “I play wherever the team needs me.”
First-year coach Pedro Resendiz is leading the Hornets to quick success, and Tovar has high hopes.
“We’re pretty good this season and trying to get better,” he said. “We want to win districts and make it far in the playoffs, and we have a lot of things to improve on.”
Tovar said he is a pretty good leader on defense.
“Since we have two starters who are out, I help the other defenders so newer guys can feel more comfortable when they’re playing,” he said.
“I give the teammates good passes, and I’ll set them up for goals as a forward. I’m pretty sure I’ve finished almost every shot I’ve gotten, and I try to do better every time they give me the ball, that doesn’t come often.”
Resendiz added: “Emmanuel is a midfielder, but he’s more like a midfielder on offense. But in the last two games I had to play him more as a defender, defender center or the last defender because he’s fast and has good ball control and has good vision with the ball.”
Resendiz said that for the Hornets to be more successful, they have to finish, which is scoring.
“We’re working on finishing, first, and after that is conditioning,” Resendiz said of practice while on holiday break. “And honestly we only have 18 players, the six or seven extra players we have are ninth graders.
“With Hamilton we had six or seven scoring opportunities, and no goals. Sometimes I tell the kids, ‘You make the goalie look good.’ The balls go straight to the goalie, but if the ball goes to the corners or side posts; then you see what kind of goalie he is. We have to make sure we get better at finishing. We need to be more focused on that — finishing.”
Resendiz said Lafayette has good ball control between midfielders and defenders.
“We open the field up with good passes and crosses with shots,” he said. “We need to put the ball in the net. In some games we’re creating 15 to 20 scoring opportunities to score but are only getting three goals.”
Lafayette didn’t play Hamilton last year but the Hornets beat the Trojans twice in 2016 and twice in 2017, and Resendiz said his players were over confident in the first meeting.
“Our kids thought it would be an easier game because of a couple years ago, but Hamilton has gotten better,” he said. “They play outside of school and in leagues, and that makes them, as a team, play better. Their coach has been with them three or four years, and they’ve been getting better every year.”
Second on the scoring sheet is Omar Carreon, who has 11 goals.
“Most of the time Omar plays midfield,” Resendiz said. “But in the last two games I had to play him as a forward because I have two starters who are injured. He’s a good midfielder and a good forward, and he can play inside and outside on the field.”
One of those defenders is out for the season, but Resendiz hopes that Brian Posada can be back by the end of the month, which would be in time for the postseason.
A sophomore, Carreon describes himself as a “team player,” which he wasn’t last year. He added that he provides the team with assist and likes soccer because, “It’s fun and you can build friendships.”
“As a team we’ve been playing better, but we still need a lot of improvement, and with the new coach, I think we have time to get better,” Carreon said.
As a new coach, Resendiz said he has changed some things.
“Honestly, the players use to play more physical and now we’re trying to play more with the ball,” he said. “To be more aggressive with the ball and have better timing with the ball. It’s like I tell the guys, ‘There is only one ball in the game, and if we have the ball we can control the game.’”
The team’s third leading scorer with eight goals is forward Quentin Sutley. He prefers playing offense.
“I help the team out in offensive situations,” he said. “I played one game on defense, but it wasn’t for long.
“I think the season is going good, we have a few players injured and only a few subs. So far, we’ve only had two bad games, and the rest have been pretty good.”
Sutley, a junior, likes the game because it’s a team sport, and joined the team while a freshman and became a starter last year. He has been playing for five years.
“We want to go to districts and hopefully the state playoffs, semifinals, quarterfinals,” Sutley said.